Learn 200 Japanese Onomatopoeias

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Did you know that the Japanese language loves onomatopoeias? Want to know all the onomatopoeias used in Japan? In this article we will see more than 500 sounds made with words in the Japanese language.

Unlike many Western languages, onomatopoeias are very important, being frequent in the Japanese language. They are used a lot, much more than in any other language.

Onomatopoeias can be written in either hiragana or katakana. They are also commonly used in casual phrases and everyday conversations. It is not considered childish or unusual to speak, but it is part of Japanese vocabulary and everyday life.

Japanese can use the legacy version of foreign languages “onomatope” [オノマトペ]. Japanese onomatopoeias are divided into 5 categories, we will examine each of them and see a list of each.

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Types of Japanese Onomatopoeias

Japanese onomatopoeias are separated into different categories that we will see throughout the article. Some of them are:

  • giongo: Sounds made by non-living things, such as cars or the wind.
  • Gitaigo: Sounds that describe states of being, such as feeling sweaty.
  • Giseigo: Sounds of living things such as people and animals.
  • Giyougo: Sounds that express descriptive movement.
  • gijougo: Describes feelings, such as a shiver down the spine.

In addition to always being written with “hiragana”, onomatopoeias also tend to follow a pattern that helps to identify them. The defaults are:

  • Double Form – Usually the word [ワクワク] is repeated.
  • と shape – Represents a short and fast sound [ハット];
  • shape り – Represents a soft, slow sound [のそり];

It is worth remembering that the katakana is always used when we want to emphasize the sound of something. It is common, for example, manga authors most often express sound using katakana, there is no rule for this.

There are some onomatopoeias with ideograms, but they will rarely be used, and when used they can be written with kana. An example is “sansan” [燦燦] which means bright, sunshine.

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onomatopoeia in japanese

Giseigo [擬声語]

The onomatopoeias called “giseigo” refer to the sounds that people and animals make. Here are some onomatopoeias in Japanese:

animal noises

AnimalKanaRomaji
BirdピチュピチュPichu Pichu
Catニャンnyan
cowモーモーmomo
Crowカーカーkaka
Puppyワンワンwan wan
Duckがーがーga-ga-
Frogゲロゲロgerogero
Monkeyキャキャkyakya
Pigブーブーbuzzard

other sounds

SoundKanaRomaji
chewingむしゃむしゃmusha musha
BellyacheごろごろGo go go
speak fastペラペラpear pear
Heart beatingドキドキDoki Doki
baby crawlingはいはいha ha ha
reelingふらふらpuncture puncture
noisy footstepsばたばたcoat coat
sneezingはくしゅんHakushun
Open and close the mouthパクパクpaku paku
feet draggingズルズルZuru Zuru
crowd soundガヤ ガヤgay gay
jumpingぴょん ぴょんpyon pyon
nappingうとうとuto uto
Clapping handsパチパチpachi pachi
yawningフワアFuwaa
runningグルグルguru guru
sobbingひくひくhiku hiku
Coughごほごほgoho goho
Blurred visionしょぼしょぼShobo shobo
rumbling bellyペコペコpeko peko
eating ramenするずるzuru zuru
Making noiseゲラゲラgenerate generates
boku no hero academy

Giongo [擬音語]

Noises that are not covered by giseigo. Sound effects such as the wind blowing, an explosion, or precipitation.

Action Noises

ActionKanaRomaji
Explosionどんdon
Winchきいkii
Sparkぴかぴかpika-pika
Heartbeatどきどきdoki-doki
Knock on the doorどんどんdon-don
Silenceしいんshiin

food sounds

ActionKanaRomaji
sizzleピリピリpiri piri
Lickペロペロbut but
full stomachパンパンpan pan
sipコグコグkogu kogu
Chomp; munchパクパクpaku paku
SlurpズーズーZūzū
To swallowごくごくgokugoku

sounds of nature

ActionNoiseRomaji
spill rainザーザーZaza
Rainパラパラparapara
Windぴゅうbye
Heatかんかんkankan
Thunderごろごろgorogoro
ara ara

Gitaigo [擬態語]

“Gitaigo” onomatopoeias are words that describe actions and emotions that do not necessarily make noise. They describe more abstract things like a facial expression or a feeling.

Some technically do not consider gitaigo to be onomatopoeia, but rather a type of mimicry conducted with words. The onomatopoeias Gijougo and Giyougo fall within this category.

See some examples below:

Feelings

SoundKanaRomaji
fuming with rageいらいらwrath
broodingくよくよkuyokuyo
hesitant / tastelessうじうじuji uji
Be angryプンプンPunpun
Impatienceじりじりjirijiri

qualities

SoundKanaRomaji
Noisy; rattle; huskyガラガラgaragara
Methodicalきびきびkibikibi
Quicklyどんどんdondon
abundant / ampleタップリTappuri
CarefreeノウノウNinth

Actions

SoundKanaRomaji
StareマジマジMajimaji
mutter; grumbleぶつぶつButsubutsu
Chat (especially from old ladies)ぺちゃくちゃpechakucha
Shake; get excitedワクワクWakuwaku
smile / happyニコニコnikoniko
Isolated; grumbleポツリpotsuri
Kimono – all about traditional Japanese clothing
Kimono - All about traditional Japanese clothing

Other Onomatopoeias in Japanese

Want more onomatopoeias? Then receive!

SoundKanaRomaji
Irritatedイライラwrath wrath
LaughingほほほほHohoho
idleぶらぶらhole
Exhaustedクタクタkuta kuta
staringじろじろjiro jiro
Distractedうかうかuka uka
Laughingハハハhaha ha
crying softlyシクシクshiku shiku
Crying loudlyギャギャgya gya
Acute painきりきりKirikiri
gigglingクスクスkusu kusu
LaughingへへへHehehe
Laughingヒヒヒヒhihihi
LaughingフフフフFufufufu

Learning Onomatopoeias with Video

There are thousands of other onomatopoeias, an extensive list, but this is something you will discover in everyday life and living with the Japanese. See below a video with more onomatopoeias and their sounds being performed:

Some of the onomatopoeias mentioned in the video:

  • カツカツ – Shoe noise;
  • がああ – Open;
  • チャリン – Put coin in the machine;
  • こと – Putting shoes in the shoe rack;
  • かちゃん – Open the door;
  • パタパタ – Walking in stockings;
  • カタカタ – Typing on keyboards;

Onomatopoeias that end with [ん] are pronounced with a nasal sound, giving a sense of “prolonged resonance” or rhythm. See some examples below:

  • ごほん – a strong cough
  • こんこん – something hitting something
  • じゃぶん – bubbling hard
  • ぼーん – an explosive fire bursting into flames
  • しん – cold deep penetrating your body

Sound Effects Onomatopoeias

Onomatopoeias are endless, and are often found in manga sound effects. Artists even end up inventing sounds using words, so it's limitless.

Finally, we will leave you another list of Onomatopoeias, but this time focusing on common sound effects in manga:

  • ギャア – aaaah!
  • キャア – aaah!
  • ハックション - I think
  • あははは - ahahaha
  • ラブラブ - love
  • ゲッソリ – shoot
  • メエメエ – baa
  • バキ – thud (beat sound)
  • ガシャンッ – beat
  • どきっ - beat (heartbeat)
  • ブチュー – kiss
  • ピピピピピ – beep beep
  • ベラベラ – blah blah
  • ピョンピョン – boing-boing
  • ブクブク – bubble
  • ブルブル – brrrr (shivering from the cold)
  • ブフーツ – snort
  • どっかーん - boom!
  • ビリビリ – bzzzt
  • ジュージュー – sizzle
  • チチチ – chirp
  • グラグラ – rattle
  • ザー - heavy rain
  • ガタンガトン – click-clack
  • カタカタ – click-click
  • カリ – crunchy / crunchy
  • ズウウウウン - depressed / doomed
  • チン – ding
  • ジリリリリ – Ding Ding
  • ピンポン or ぴんぽん – ding dong
  • キリキリ - excruciating pain
  • どろ どろ – drain
  • グチャ - smash
  • キラキラ - sparkling wine
  • カチカチ - snap
  • ドーン - bang
  • ガガガ - bang / rattat
  • ハタハタ – flutter
  • バラバラ – flutter
  • サワサワ – rustle
  • ぐにゃり - Bend
  • ちらほら – float / float
  • ふわふわ - cute
  • ポ キッ - Photograph
  • ゴクゴク – sip
  • ぐうきゅるるる - gurgling/stomach growling
  • ぼたぼた – drip drip
  • ホホホ - haha ha
  • ニヤニヤ - heh heh
  • もじもじ – restlessness
  • ハラハラ - restless
  • ピカッ – snapshot
  • こちょこちょ – koochie-koochie koo
  • コロ コロ – list
  • ガツガツ - to chew
  • もぐもぐ - to chew
  • にゃあ - meow
  • ギリギリ – grind
  • びしょびしょ - wet
  • ブツブツ - mutter
  • もおー - muu
  • ちゅっ – mwha (kiss)
  • イヤア - no (screamed)
  • ブヒブヒ – oin-oink
  • ちらっ – peek
  • じーっ - stare
  • キキー – oohoohahah (monkey)
  • おっとっと - oops
  • ダダダダ - running feet
  • ペこペこ - person bowing
  • ソロリソロリ - tip toe
  • だらだら - lazy
  • ヒリヒリ – pulse
  • カサカサ – burn (as in sunburn)
  • バキッ – crack
  • チュウチュウ - creak
  • ガ ー - swirl
  • ヒヒーン - neigh/neigh
  • ピチャン – splash
  • グルルグルル - purr
  • がおー - growl
  • シワシワ – wrinkles
  • ガチガチ – shake
  • カラカラ – dry
  • コスコス - secretly
  • ちょこんっ - silence
  • フーツ - hiss
  • ブカブカ - loose / loose
  • ニヤニアヤ - ironic smile
  • ちゅるちゅる – sip
  • コト – jingle
  • ドンドン – ToC Toc
  • ぐるぐる - dizzy
  • ズズウウ - I drink
  • ゾクゾク - shake
  • バリバリ – crush
  • コケッ - stumble
  • バタバタ - wow!
  • ヒュオオオオオ - howl
  • べたべた – stick (as in sticky)
  • ブロロロロ – vroom / zoom
  • パタパタ - whooooosh
  • ボー – woosh
  • パチッ – zap/zzzt
  • ブーン - buzz
  • こっくり – zzzz

You learned all the onomatopoeias! If you want to learn more Japanese, keep following our website and sharing with your friends.

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